Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction
Lord Butler of Brockwell headed the five-member committee which included senior parliamentarians and civil servants with military and intelligence links:
- The Lord Butler of Brockwell, career civil servant who served three prime ministers as Cabinet Secretary.
- Sir John Chilcot, a career diplomat and top civil servant.
- Field Marshal The Lord Inge, a crossbencher who was Chief of the Defence Staff from 1994 to 1997.
- Ann Taylor, Labour MP who supported the invasion of Iraq, chair of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), and former chief whip of the Labour Party.
- Michael Mates Conservative MP who supported the invasion of Iraq, chair of the Northern Ireland select committee. He is also a member of the ISC.
Criticism of impartiality of Members of the Committee
Private Eye magazine expressed misgivings against members of a committee personally appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair. The magazine was particularly critical over the choice selection of New Labour Party politician and close acquaintance Ann Taylor, writing "Taylor is hardly a disinterested observer: she was herself involved in the famous 'September dossier' that explained Blair's reasons for going to war."
On 18 September 2002 an official in Blair's office sent this memo to chief of staff Jonathan Powell and Alastair Campbell: "The PM has asked Ann Taylor to read through the dossier in draft and give us any comments. He stressed that it is for her and for her only and that no one else outside this building was seeing it in draft. I'm contacting John Scarlett to work out how this should happen — needs to be tomorrow."
So the only person outside No 10 and the JIC who was trusted to help with the dossier (and who also expressed a wish to see Blair's critics undercut) is now sitting on the inquiry into its contents. One wonders why Blair didn't go the whole hog and add Alastair Campbell to Lord Butler's team of independent inquisitors.
Taylor went to Scarlett's office at 8 o'clock the next morning, read the dossier and gave her comments to the spy chief — who then passed them on to Blair. She advised that it "needs to come across as an impartial, professional assessment of the threat", and that the PM should "undercut critics" by explaining why Saddam should be stopped now.
Lynne Jones (MP) was also critical of Taylor's involvement in subsequent inquiries, stating: "It is self-evidently bad practice to appoint someone to a committee when their previous conclusions are under scrutiny". A piece in the Western Mail was more direct, noting of a joke that followed the publication of the report: "When you call the Butler, you get what you ordered".
- British Library Web Archive of the Butler Review website Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction